Atherothrombosis is the leading cause of death worldwide and has a large economic impact. It is a pathologic process related to atherosclerosis, which leads to adverse clinical manifestations, including acute coronary syndrome, cerebrovascular disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Patients with atherothrombosis are at heightened risk for recurrent ischemic events or death, and therefore, secondary prevention is an important goal in the treatment of these patients. Antiplatelet therapies available for long-term secondary prevention include aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), extended-release dipyridamole plus aspirin, and clopidogrel. A number of clinical trials have demonstrated the benefit of combined antiplatelet therapy in secondary prevention, supporting the recommendations made in current published guidelines. Although the efficacy and safety of antiplatelet agents is well established and supported by clinical trials, their utilization rate in patients with atherothrombosis remains suboptimal. Quality improvement initiatives have demonstrated effectiveness in promoting the awareness and implementation of treatment guidelines. This article reviews the benefits and risks of antiplatelet therapy in patients with cardiovascular disease with the aim of spurring greater adherence to treatment recommendations and, thereby, better patient outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Pharmacology (medical)